Southern Oregon continues to see an unusually high case of rabies in local fox populations, a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently stated.
According to the release, nine cases of rabid foxes have been reported in the Cave Junction area since the beginning of 2010. ODFW biologists and veterinarians have met to discuss concerns that this increase in rabies cases could be trouble for local pet populations.
Emilio DeBees, a public health veterinarian at the Oregon Health Authority, said that can be of significant concern for pet owners.
“In Oregon, dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies,” he said. Cats are not, except in Multnomah County, but veterinarians strongly recommend they are also vaccinated.”
Rabies, a viral disease that attacks the nervous system of mammals, poses a low risk to humans. However, hunters, campers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts are still at risk of infection if they come across a rabid animal. Along with traditional hunting equipment, it is important to bring a first aid kit and an emergency communication device, such as a cell phone or radio, in case you need to call for help.
It is also important to be aware of what a rabid animal looks like. Rabies symptoms include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, aggressiveness, excessive saliva, and a lack of fear around humans. That means if you see a rabid animal, don’t try to scare it off – not even shouting, blowing a whistle, or shining an LED flashlight at it will get rid of it.
The press release suggested the following actions for those living in an area with reported rabies cases:
1. Vaccinate your pets.
2. Don’t approach or handle wild animals.
3. Do not feed wild animals.
4. Keep garbage in secure containers.
5. Feed pets indoors.
6. Seal any opening in your attic, basement, porch, shed, barn, or chimney through which a bat or rodent could get in.